Posted by Curt on 17 November, 2016 at 10:14 am. 2 comments already!



So this is where the GOP civil war begins.

Asked by The Huffington Post about ending the filibuster, [Hatch] was blunt.

“Are you kidding?” he said with some vehemence. “I’m one of the biggest advocates for the filibuster. It’s the only way to protect the minority, and we’ve been in the minority a lot more than we’ve been in the majority. It’s just a great, great protection for the minority.”

He’s not alone in that opinion. Per New York mag, Lindsey Graham said ending the filibuster was a “horrible, terrible idea” when asked about it a few days ago. That makes two Republican votes in the Senate for protecting the Democrats’ power to block Trump’s initiatives — and, importantly, Hatch and Graham are both insulated (somewhat) from the usual grassroots pressures that might force them to change their minds. Hatch is still on track to retire in 2018; even if he changed his mind and ran again, Trump’s favorability in his home state of Utah was poisonous all year and Hatch is an institution there. Graham is more susceptible to a primary challenge since he’s likely to run again in a state that voted for Trump twice, once in the primary and the other in the general election, but his seat’s not up for four more years. And Graham has proved himself wily in beating back threats from right-wing populists. Border hawks have been clamoring for 10 years for someone to primary him, and that’s gone nowhere twice. Unless Trump is prepared to campaign against a member of his own party in 2020, when he himself will be busy campaigning for reelection as president, Graham doesn’t have much to worry about.

So let’s do some second-grade math. The GOP will have 52 seats in the Senate after Louisiana’s run-off election next month. To eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations or for legislation, they need a simple majority of 51 votes. Without Hatch and Graham, they’re at 50; in that case, Mike Pence would break the tie and supply the 51st vote. If the lose even one more senator, though, there’s no tie. Their attempt to nuke the filibuster will fail outright. (It’s possible but unlikely that Democrat Joe Manchin, from deep red West Virginia, would betray his own caucus by voting with the GOP to take their power away. If he’s going to do that, though, he might as well switch parties.) Is there one more vote to save the filibuster among those 50 Republicans? Well … yeah, probably. Eighty-year-old John McCain just won reelection and is now in his final term (I think). He’s an old-school Senate traditionalist and a Graham ally, and he spent the final few weeks of his campaign this year vowing that the Senate GOP would unite to block President Hillary’s court picks. He has nothing to lose by sticking it to Trump and siding with Hatch and Graham on the filibuster. He might even enjoy paying back Trump for his nasty comment about McCain’s Vietnam service last year.

Those three would be enough to hand victory to the Democrats, but someone like Rand Paul who’s eager to assert his own check on Trump’s executive power might flip too. So might some of the centrists like Murkowski and Collins. The effort to nuke the filibuster, at least for legislation, could end up failing badly. And President Trump isn’t going to like that once Democrats start using their power to bog down his agenda. Some parts of O-Care can be undone via reconciliation, which requires just 51 votes, but not all of them can. An infrastructure bill that leans too far towards Republican spending priorities might be filibustered as well. A narcissist who ran and won as a can-do strongman who’s ready to get America moving again isn’t going to understand why his own party insists on siding with the Democrats’ right to obstruct rather than with his right to follow through on his alleged electoral mandate. And he’s going to take that case to his voters. And that’s when the party ends up at each other’s throats.

What you might end up seeing here, as a sort of compromise, is Republicans agreeing to nuke the filibuster for SCOTUS appointments while keeping it in place for legislation.

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